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Scrum at Scale to Increasing Agility of Organizations

One of the myths of Agile frameworks like Scrum are that they work only for small teams and small organizations or start-ups. But as more and more organizations have realized the advantage of going Agile, scaling Scrum is no longer an option, but a necessity. By scaling Scrum, organizations can ensure sustainability, competitive advantage, early adaptability, and reduce time to market. Enterprises are all about happy customers, and this can be achieved by scaling Scrum to respond to changes, address requirements, and continually improve processes and practices.   The Need for Organizational AgilityAgile is the ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain and turbulent environment. —Agile Alliance  The pandemic was an eye-opener for many of us. Economies hit rock bottom and organizations unprepared to handle the change had to shut shop. According to McKinsey & Co, an April 2020 survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics found that 30 percent of businesses in the United Kingdom reported they had less than three months of cash reserves, 24 percent paused trading, and many more turned to government support.Why did this happen? Because they were not ready to handle change or could not adapt to new ways of working, including remote working, which has now become the norm. As opposed to that, there were organizations that were able to ride the tide and prove their adaptability and resilience by making quick decisions, adapting to change and ensuring that there was business continuity even when teams were distributed. These were organizations that had adopted Scrum and were able to reap its benefits to become high performing and profitable.We are living in an increasingly disruptive world, where technology changes at breakneck speed. A part of being more responsive and adaptable is the ability to adopt these technologies and train the workforce to become competitive. Organizations also have to ensure that the changing requirements of stakeholders are addressed. Customer and stakeholder patterns are rapidly changing, and they demand quick responses and action. Non-agile organizations will find it difficult to accommodate these demands and lose the goodwill of customers.Here are some of the benefits that Scrum organizations stand to gain: A more responsive culture More adaptability Nimbleness and collaboration Easier to get things done Free flow of information Quicker decision making Empowered teams Satisfied customers Faster learnings from failures Increased business value and product quality Better alignment between DevOps and business Faster decision making Faster accommodation of stakeholder needs Scaling Scrum To Increase Agility of OrganizationsWhile organizations may start implementing agility on a small scale through team level and agile project implementation, the ultimate goal of every organization would be to scale Scrum throughout the enterprise. A fully Agile organization with Scrum teams across all departments is empowered to make quick decisions giving it a strategic advantage over its competition and the ability to capitalize on new opportunities.Agile organizations have the strength and power to shorten delivery times and respond to customer demands at speed, all qualities that will help them survive the digital age and ensure long lasting achievement of business goals and objectives. But scaling Scrum to the enterprise level is easier said than done. Many large organizations have gone down the route of enterprise-wide agile transformation only to fail miserably. How can organizations ensure that they scale effectively? By following these three dimensions of organizational agility: Lean-Thinking People and Agile Teams Lean Business Operations  Strategy Agility  Let’s look at each of these in-depth.Lean-Thinking People and Agile Teams: This dimension, which states that everyone in the solution delivery pipeline needs to be trained and well versed with Lean Agile methods including their principles, values and practices, is important for all activities that continually support the business including software applications, digital systems, and supporting activities like security, privacy, support, availability etc.This dimension deals with scaling Scrum in the enterprise and requires the agile mind-set and principles to transcend teams and extend to the enterprise. Scrum teams are high performing, and it is important that all technical domains including network, operations, hardware etc adopt agile to ensure high performance and motivated teams.Besides helping technical teams adopt agility, teams that support the development and delivery of business solutions should also become agile. These include: Marketing teams Supply chain management teams HR teams Customer service and support teams Operations, Finance, Compliance teams Another important aspect of ensuring enterprise-wide agility is to provide teams the right environment, especially physical spaces to allow teams to support and practice Scrum processes and artifacts like daily stand-up meetings, boards, the right infrastructure to conduct meetings and more.Information should be always accessible. There has to be a high degree of transparency and teams should be able to visualize customer requirements, the flow of work and strategy.Lean Business OperationsIn order to ensure implementation of appropriate lean business operations, enterprises should take care of Operational Value streams and Development Value Streams. Operational Value Streams suggests the sequence of activities that are needed to deliver a product or service to the customer. Development Value Streams is the sequence of steps needed to convert a business idea into a solution that is supported by technology and delivers customer value. By taking care of these two aspects, end to end solutions can be delivered to the customer.Value stream mapping that identifies the operational and Development Value streams is an essential task to be carried out as it helps to analyse and improve business operations.These value streams can be visualized on boards like Kanban boards, that help to further visualize the value stream and identify any bottlenecks or risks and improve the operational flow.Companies that have successfully scaled Scrum have now started using automation tools to further enhance the efficiency of operational value streams. Agile Lifecycle Management solutions, Content management and translation management systems, Workflow management systems etc help supported distributed teams and make work more efficient.Strategy AgilityThe third dimension of organizational agility is Strategy agility. This is an important aspect of going agile, which means becoming flexible and adaptable. Strategy Agility defines the ability of the organization to mould themselves according to changing market conditions and implement new strategies quickly and effectively.Organizations that have adopted strategy agility and are competent in it, display the following characteristics: 1. Market Sensing: This is the ability to identify and sense changes in the market. It is based on the following: Market research  Analysing quantitative and qualitative data  Getting direct and indirect customer feedback  Directly observing customers in the marketplace 2. Bringing Innovation Like a Lean Organization:Once the market opportunity has been identified it is time to implement this. This requires visualizing the flow of processes and investments. These initiatives may be completely new or may require making changes to existing processes or solutions. In order to reduce the risk, most organizations test their hypotheses by creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) before committing fully to new initiatives.3. Implementing Changes in Strategy:Once new strategies are identified it is time to implement them, communicate it to the entire team and the stakeholders and customers. New strategies are often difficult to implement as they may affect several linked processes downstream. Hence there has to be a high degree of co-ordination between teams and processes in order to ensure that the strategy is implemented successfully.4. Accounting Innovations:Traditional accounting systems and metrics like Profit and Loss (P&L) and Return on Investment (ROI) are carried out too late in the process to identify any risks or value additions. Instead, Agile organizations should have innovative accounting strategies that use actionable metrics that offer quick and efficient analysis of data.5. Being Organized Around Value:The goal of the organization should be to deliver value to the customer. Their entire operational hierarchy should support this. This could mean using the existing operations and making them lean to minimize delays or creating new value streams. The organization should assemble teams that can collaborate and understand the needs of customers and deliver business value and enhance quality. As new and new technologies and strategies are adopted there may be a need to completely overhaul or re-organize Agile teams and ARTs around business value.    Scaled Scrum ContractsEvery large-scale system has to align with third parties such as customers and stakeholders and other contracts. These alignments of an enterprise with suppliers, partners, vendors etc are safeguarded through contracts for the value delivered. Considering that there is continuous change owing to new requirements, changing market conditions or new technology innovations and decisions, there also must be provision to ensure that contracts are flexible. This is where Scrum contracts come in. By being flexible and adaptable, these contracts benefit all parties in the short and long term.Conclusion Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, implementing Scrum at scale is a huge undertaking; one that most organizations get wrong! But with systems like the Scaled Agile Framework SAFe®, that provides principles, practices and competencies that are aligned to business agility, organizations can scale Scrum and reap the benefits of going fully Agile.  
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Scrum at Scale to Increasing Agility of Organizations

Susan May
Blog
14th Sep, 2021
Scrum at Scale to Increasing Agility of Organizations

One of the myths of Agile frameworks like Scrum are that they work only for small teams and small organizations or start-ups. But as more and more organizations have realized the advantage of going Agile, scaling Scrum is no longer an option, but a necessity. By scaling Scrum, organizations can ensure sustainability, competitive advantage, early adaptability, and reduce time to market. Enterprises are all about happy customers, and this can be achieved by scaling Scrum to respond to changes, address requirements, and continually improve processes and practices.   

The Need for Organizational Agility

Agile is the ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain and turbulent environment. —Agile Alliance  

The pandemic was an eye-opener for many of us. Economies hit rock bottom and organizations unprepared to handle the change had to shut shop. According to McKinsey & Co, an April 2020 survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics found that 30 percent of businesses in the United Kingdom reported they had less than three months of cash reserves, 24 percent paused trading, and many more turned to government support.

Why did this happen? Because they were not ready to handle change or could not adapt to new ways of working, including remote working, which has now become the norm. 

As opposed to that, there were organizations that were able to ride the tide and prove their adaptability and resilience by making quick decisions, adapting to change and ensuring that there was business continuity even when teams were distributed. These were organizations that had adopted Scrum and were able to reap its benefits to become high performing and profitable.

We are living in an increasingly disruptive world, where technology changes at breakneck speed. A part of being more responsive and adaptable is the ability to adopt these technologies and train the workforce to become competitive. Organizations also have to ensure that the changing requirements of stakeholders are addressed. Customer and stakeholder patterns are rapidly changing, and they demand quick responses and action. Non-agile organizations will find it difficult to accommodate these demands and lose the goodwill of customers.

Here are some of the benefits that Scrum organizations stand to gain: 

  • A more responsive culture 
  • More adaptability 
  • Nimbleness and collaboration 
  • Easier to get things done 
  • Free flow of information 
  • Quicker decision making 
  • Empowered teams 
  • Satisfied customers 
  • Faster learnings from failures 
  • Increased business value and product quality 
  • Better alignment between DevOps and business 
  • Faster decision making 
  • Faster accommodation of stakeholder needs 

Scaling Scrum To Increase Agility of Organizations

While organizations may start implementing agility on a small scale through team level and agile project implementation, the ultimate goal of every organization would be to scale Scrum throughout the enterprise. A fully Agile organization with Scrum teams across all departments is empowered to make quick decisions giving it a strategic advantage over its competition and the ability to capitalize on new opportunities.

Agile organizations have the strength and power to shorten delivery times and respond to customer demands at speed, all qualities that will help them survive the digital age and ensure long lasting achievement of business goals and objectives. But scaling Scrum to the enterprise level is easier said than done. Many large organizations have gone down the route of enterprise-wide agile transformation only to fail miserably. 

How can organizations ensure that they scale effectively? By following these three dimensions of organizational agility: 

  • Lean-Thinking People and Agile Teams 
  • Lean Business Operations  
  • Strategy Agility  

Let’s look at each of these in-depth.

Lean-Thinking People and Agile Teams

This dimension, which states that everyone in the solution delivery pipeline needs to be trained and well versed with Lean Agile methods including their principles, values and practices, is important for all activities that continually support the business including software applications, digital systems, and supporting activities like security, privacy, support, availability etc.

This dimension deals with scaling Scrum in the enterprise and requires the agile mind-set and principles to transcend teams and extend to the enterprise. Scrum teams are high performing, and it is important that all technical domains including network, operations, hardware etc adopt agile to ensure high performance and motivated teams.

Besides helping technical teams adopt agility, teams that support the development and delivery of business solutions should also become agile. These include: 

  • Marketing teams 
  • Supply chain management teams 
  • HR teams 
  • Customer service and support teams 
  • Operations, Finance, Compliance teams 

Another important aspect of ensuring enterprise-wide agility is to provide teams the right environment, especially physical spaces to allow teams to support and practice Scrum processes and artifacts like daily stand-up meetings, boards, the right infrastructure to conduct meetings and more.

Information should be always accessible. There has to be a high degree of transparency and teams should be able to visualize customer requirements, the flow of work and strategy.

Lean Business Operations

In order to ensure implementation of appropriate lean business operations, enterprises should take care of Operational Value streams and Development Value Streams. 

Operational Value Streams suggests the sequence of activities that are needed to deliver a product or service to the customer. 

Development Value Streams is the sequence of steps needed to convert a business idea into a solution that is supported by technology and delivers customer value. By taking care of these two aspects, end to end solutions can be delivered to the customer.

Value stream mapping that identifies the operational and Development Value streams is an essential task to be carried out as it helps to analyse and improve business operations.

These value streams can be visualized on boards like Kanban boards, that help to further visualize the value stream and identify any bottlenecks or risks and improve the operational flow.

Companies that have successfully scaled Scrum have now started using automation tools to further enhance the efficiency of operational value streams. Agile Lifecycle Management solutions, Content management and translation management systems, Workflow management systems etc help supported distributed teams and make work more efficient.

Strategy Agility

The third dimension of organizational agility is Strategy agility. This is an important aspect of going agile, which means becoming flexible and adaptable. Strategy Agility defines the ability of the organization to mould themselves according to changing market conditions and implement new strategies quickly and effectively.

Organizations that have adopted strategy agility and are competent in it, display the following characteristics: 

1. Market Sensing: 

This is the ability to identify and sense changes in the market. It is based on the following: 

  • Market research  
  • Analysing quantitative and qualitative data  
  • Getting direct and indirect customer feedback  
  • Directly observing customers in the marketplace 

2. Bringing Innovation Like a Lean Organization:

Once the market opportunity has been identified it is time to implement this. This requires visualizing the flow of processes and investments. These initiatives may be completely new or may require making changes to existing processes or solutions. In order to reduce the risk, most organizations test their hypotheses by creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) before committing fully to new initiatives.

3. Implementing Changes in Strategy:

Once new strategies are identified it is time to implement them, communicate it to the entire team and the stakeholders and customers. New strategies are often difficult to implement as they may affect several linked processes downstream. Hence there has to be a high degree of co-ordination between teams and processes in order to ensure that the strategy is implemented successfully.

4. Accounting Innovations:

Traditional accounting systems and metrics like Profit and Loss (P&L) and Return on Investment (ROI) are carried out too late in the process to identify any risks or value additions. Instead, Agile organizations should have innovative accounting strategies that use actionable metrics that offer quick and efficient analysis of data.

5. Being Organized Around Value:

The goal of the organization should be to deliver value to the customer. Their entire operational hierarchy should support this. This could mean using the existing operations and making them lean to minimize delays or creating new value streams. The organization should assemble teams that can collaborate and understand the needs of customers and deliver business value and enhance quality. As new and new technologies and strategies are adopted there may be a need to completely overhaul or re-organize Agile teams and ARTs around business value.    

Scaled Scrum Contracts

Every large-scale system has to align with third parties such as customers and stakeholders and other contracts. These alignments of an enterprise with suppliers, partners, vendors etc are safeguarded through contracts for the value delivered. 

Considering that there is continuous change owing to new requirements, changing market conditions or new technology innovations and decisions, there also must be provision to ensure that contracts are flexible. This is where Scrum contracts come in. By being flexible and adaptable, these contracts benefit all parties in the short and long term.

Conclusion 

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, implementing Scrum at scale is a huge undertaking; one that most organizations get wrong! But with systems like the Scaled Agile Framework SAFe®, that provides principles, practices and competencies that are aligned to business agility, organizations can scale Scrum and reap the benefits of going fully Agile 

Susan

Susan May

Writer, Developer, Explorer

Susan is a gamer, internet scholar and an entrepreneur, specialising in Big Data, Hadoop, Web Development and many other technologies. She is the author of several articles published on Zeolearn and KnowledgeHut blogs. She has gained a lot of experience by working as a freelancer and is now working as a trainer. As a developer, she has spoken at various international tech conferences around the globe about Big Data.


Website : https://www.zeolearn.com

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